1930s Tube Trains On The Isle Of Wight To Be Replaced... With 1980s Tube Trains

1930s Tube Trains On The Isle Of Wight To Be Replaced... With 1980s Tube Trains
Ohhh shiny and new. As in 1980s shiny and new. Image VivaRail

Find yourself complaining about the outdated bone-shaker of a tube train that rumbles you into work each day? On the Isle of Wight, they have to make do with repurposed trains that are 81 years old.

To be fair, the 1938 tube stock that judders between Ryde Pier and Shanklin is a beloved tourist attraction. We've ridden it on more than one occasion, and fallen for its ramshackle charms.

A 1938 train pulls into Shanklin station

But the veteran trains are soon to be retired. The Department for Transport has announced that as part of the biggest upgrades to the Isle of Wight's infrastructure in 50 years, the 1930s stock will finally be swapped out for new trains.

We say 'new'. Actually, the replacement D78 Stock was built by Metro Cammell in 1980, and saw many years service on the District and East London lines.

Islanders will be glad to know that the five replacement trains — due to start testing on the Isle of Wight from summer 2020 — are getting a thorough overhaul, including new electric motors and refitted interiors.

Vivarail promises: "More capacity, better accessibility, passenger information systems and Wi-Fi." Not even London has Wi-Fi on all its trains.

They have these on the Isle of Wight too

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:

These trains have diligently served passengers since 1938 — coinciding with the first ever edition of the Beano and the maiden voyage of the record-setting Mallard steam train — so this upgrade is a long overdue boost.

This investment in the Island Line means more punctual, reliable trains and better connections to ferry services, supporting local residents, businesses and tourism.

And what of the future for those 1938 warhorses? It's likely they still have rich lives ahead of them in one guise or another. And we'd be surprised if at least one train didn't stay on the island, to continue running on the heritage railway (even though they aren't steam-driven).

We made this video on one of the old trains in August 2019:

Last Updated 17 September 2019